Firecracker Race Report


Okay, I'm overdue on my Firecracker Tri race report. But here it is.
I didn't sleep well the night before, just like my first marathon. I had set my alarm for 3am, but I didnt' need it as I was up at 2:30. Since I had packed my car the night before, all I needed to do was get ready, fill up my water bottles and go. So I left at 3:45 like I planned. So 11 minutes into my drive into town I realized I had left the water bottles, so I turned around. In the end, it all worked out fine and I got to U of A just when the transition area was openned for folks to setup.
At orientation, we were explained how things would be in the morning, but it appears overnight they changed everything from their "new plan" to the "old way" which was fine. I quickly found a spot and racked my bike. Then it was time to get my body marked. I was bib 11. At first I was shocked I had such a low bib number, but then I learned it was because I had a slow projected swim time. The higher the number was better the swimmer/triathelete for this race.
At around 5:15, I took a warm up lap in the pool. The length was 50 meters instead of the traditional 25 yard pools. So basically 1 lenght of the pool 55 yards (so just over 2 laps of a standard pool). Doesn't sound like much, but wow it is a bit harder. Anyhow I figured one warm up lap was enough and I waited.
The youth race started at 5:45 so I watched as they took to the swim. It didn't seem to really faze any of them. They were just having fun, which was the right attitude to have. Then shortly before 6 it was time for the adults in the first wave. I was slotted to start at 6:02:30. The race director said GO and I was off.
I started off pretty fast, probably faster than I should. I overtook two other "slow swimmers" and was feeling good. I did my first lap up and back and then it was time to switch to lane 2 and repeat. Before the race I didn't know you could do any stroke you wanted, so I switched to breaststroke which I was more comfortable with doing. I thought I would switch back and forth each lane. But as I was swimming in lane 3 my head felt like it was going to explode or someone swung a baseball bat to the back of my head, so I slowed down and went back to breaststroke. My marathon training kicked in and I reminded myself I have many more miles to go. As I completed my laps on lanes 5-7 I was in my mind cursing that I had started personal training sessions at the gym because my abs were burning from the work outs I had endured that week. Then on the second to last lap, a guy I had previously passed then passed me with a swift kick to my chest (more on him later). But before I knew it I had completed 750 meters (0.46 miles) in 21:30, which was exacly what I had predicted my time would be on my entry form.
Then it was off to transition to the bike, which is called T1 in tri-talk. After experiecing it, I think it's better called Trance 1 because that is how I felt exiting the pool and heading toward my bike. I got to my bike threw on my jersey, socks, and shoes, and I was off for the bike portion of the race. The bike course consisted of three laps on a 4 mile course around U of A (a 1 mile square). 3 sides of the square were very smooth roads. The one exception was under construction and rough, so it slowed me down as a newbie cyclist. 
Overall, I did the 12 mile bike ride at a 14.5 MPH pace, which was respectable and something I can definitely improve upon. Since I was out of the pool so early, there weren't many other on the bike portion as I completed it. On the last mile of the bike portion, I found the guy who had kicked me surrounded by EMTs and Tucson PD. He had been hit by a Dunkin Donuts van. He looked okay and only shooken up. I just mustered on back to the transition area.
As I rounded the corner to the transition area, I was actually feel good in the legs and not at all winded, just a bit dehyrated. I had my water bootle, but I wasn't completely comfortable reaching for it. I'm sure in time I will get the hang of that on my bike, but I've only been riding for a month. Anyhow I returned to my spot and racked my bike. A quick grab of my running water bottle and bib number and I was off. Since I didn't use clip petals, I dind't have to change shoes and could just start the run and exit Trance 2 (T2).
By the time I was on the 5k course, I was feeling the heat and humidty even though it was barely after 7am. The feeling in my legs was indeed strange. I had been practicing for speed on the 5k distance and my legs were just like not having it. I felt like I was shuffling along and guessing I was doing a pace of 14-15 minutes. Since I didn't have my trusty iphone app tracking me, I really had no clue.
The 5K course was basically 2 laps of the U of A mall. Most of the first lap I was not feeling the greatest, but I mustered on knowing I would be done soon. As I rounded the final corner, I ran into one of my Team in Training coaches who was just starting the run. Some of the elites were still waiting to start their swim! It must have been brutal for them as it was getting hotter every minute.
As I came toward the finish line and my name was announced, they also recognized my team in training jersey and the LLS. I really appreciated that. Later I found out my pace was 11:42 on the run, which shocked me as I thought I did alot worst.
The clock showed 2:04 minutes and someone said that was based on the youth start time. This turned out to be true as my official time was 1:47. I considered it respectable for my first time and without alot of preparation on the bike and swim. It's definitely a base to improve upon. Next time I would like to just 6 minutes off my swim and 10 minutes off my bike. 
I will do this course again, but probably not in July. I think the March race sounds good.